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Balancing Authority and Responsibility

The balance between authority and responsibility can have a profound influence on the success of any organization. Anyone who has had the experience of being assigned responsibility without the proper level of authority to accomplish the expected objectives understands how futile this can be. The organization suffers because important goals aren’t achieved. The individual who was assigned the responsibility often ends up stressed out and frustrated. Relationships quite possibly could become damaged and the unfortunate consequences of losing valuable team members could manifest. Managers must accomplish their objectives through others and it is incumbent upon them to ensure that the balance between authority and responsibility are tended to.

Delegation Should Be Viewed As Empowerment – Managers must successfully delegate work in order for the organization to function effectively. Successful delegation results from thoughtful consideration and effective communication. Any work to be delegated must be clearly defined. How the person will accomplish the objectives and what they will need to do so should be thought through. The abilities of the person to successfully execute should be considered. Communication with the individual should allow for further refinement of the definition of authority and responsibility. Giving a person too much authority can be just as detrimental as not giving them enough. Finding the proper balance of authority and responsibility is the key to success.

Responsibility Should Be Accepted – The assignment of work through delegation should be predicated on acceptance or assumption of responsibility. If a person views the situation as equitable – meaning the level of authority is sufficient to assume the responsibility – it will be accepted willingly. If not there will be reluctance or a lack of commitment. The delegation process is complete when the responsibility for expected results is accepted.

Authority Must be Supported – Authority will be rendered ineffective if undermined. Care should be given to ensure that people are put into a position to succeed. A common occurrence is assignment of work with all the best intentions but through force of habit execution is interfered with by management actions. Acceptance of responsibility is incumbent on the person the work is assigned to. Relinquishment of authority by management is necessary for the person to succeed.

Balance Ensures Success – If the proper balance between authority and responsibility are achieved success will be realized. When authority is delegated and responsibility is accepted the proper circumstances exist for accomplishment of objectives.

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